Push for the Playoffs: Flames fight to stay alive vs. shockingly hot Senators

Push for the Playoffs will run every morning through the end of the 2020-21 NHL season. We’ll highlight the current playoff picture in both conferences, take a look at what the first-round matchups might look like, see who’s leading the race for the best odds in the draft lottery and more.

Technically, the Calgary Flames are still in the race for a spot in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It sure feels like a matter of time, but at least the Flames get to beat up on the sad little Senators, right?

Well, about that …

If you were to put together a list of the hottest teams in the NHL right now, you’d need to put the Senators on it.

It’s not just that the Senators are on a three-game winning streak. After beating the Jets 4-2 on Saturday, the Senators are a stunning 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. Considering how thin the margin of error is for the Flames, you’d think they would be the ones on a hot streak. (Just think of the puns.) Instead, they’re 5-5-0 in their last 10 games.

[Your 2020-21 NHL on NBC TV schedule]

As of Sunday, NHL teams have claimed 15 of the 16 spots in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. For many, it’s now about seeding, and also maybe about weighing “staying sharp” versus getting rest. Connor McDavid doesn’t even need to chase 100 points any longer.

Realistically, both the Flames and the Senators should be eyeing the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery odds more than anything else. But if the Flames want to extend their slim chances, they need to beat a Senators team that’s far from tanking.

IF PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY (matchups by total points)

EAST DIVISION
1. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 4. New York Islanders
2. Washington Capitals vs. 3. Boston Bruins

CENTRAL DIVISION
1. Carolina Hurricanes vs. 4. Nashville Predators — series official
2. Tampa Bay Lightning vs. 3. Florida Panthers — series official, seeding to be determined

NORTH DIVISION
1. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. 4. Montreal Canadiens
2. Edmonton Oilers vs. 3. Winnipeg Jets

WEST DIVISION
1. Vegas Golden Knights vs. 4. St. Louis Blues
2. Colorado Avalanche vs. 3. Minnesota Wild

SUNDAY’S GAMES
Stars vs. Blackhawks, 7 p.m. ET
Senators vs. Flames, 8 p.m. ET

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Penguins – Clinched division title
Capitals – Clinched
Islanders – Clinched
Bruins – Clinched
Rangers – eliminated
Flyers – eliminated
Devils – eliminated
Sabres – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Hurricanes – Clinched division title
Panthers – Clinched
Lightning – Clinched
Predators – Clinched
Stars – eliminated
Blackhawks – eliminated
Red Wings – eliminated
Blue Jackets – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Maple Leafs – Clinched division title
Oilers – Clinched
Jets – Clinched
Canadiens – 98%
Flames – 2.1%
Canucks – 0%
Senators – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Golden Knights – Clinched
Avalanche – Clinched
Wild – Clinched
Blues – Clinched
Kings – eliminated
Coyotes – eliminated
Sharks – eliminated
Ducks – eliminated

draft lottery
Getty Images

DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE (via MoneyPuck)

Sabres – 18.5%
Ducks – 13.5%
Devils – 11%
Blue Jackets – 9.1%
Canucks – 8%
Red Wings – 8%
Sharks – 6.5%
Kings – 5.7%
Senators – 5.5%
Blackhawks – 3.4%
Flames – 3.1%
Coyotes – 3%
Flyers – 1.9%
Stars – 1.4%
Rangers – 1.2%

ART ROSS TROPHY RACE

Connor McDavid, Oilers – 100 points
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 79
Mitch Marner, Maple Leafs – 67
Brad Marchand, Bruins – 67
Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche – 65

ROCKET RICHARD RACE

Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 40 goals
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 32
Mikko Rantanen, Avalanche – 30
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 30
Alex DeBrincat, Blackhawks – 29

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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